Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 11. Contractors
11/26/2020

Article 2. Virginia Contractor Transaction Recovery Act.

§ 54.1-1118. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Act" means the Virginia Contractor Transaction Recovery Act.

"Biennium" means a two-year period beginning on July 1 of an even-numbered year and continuing through June 30 of the next even-numbered year.

"Claimant" means any person with an unsatisfied judgment involving residential construction against a regulant, who has filed a verified claim under this Act.

"Fund" means the Virginia Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund.

"Improper or dishonest conduct" includes only the wrongful taking or conversion of money, property or other things of value which involves fraud, material misrepresentation or conduct constituting gross negligence, continued incompetence, or intentional violation of the Uniform Statewide Building Code (§ 36-97 et seq.). The term "improper or dishonest conduct" does not include mere breach of contract.

"Judgment" includes an order of a United States Bankruptcy Court (i) declaring a claim against a regulant who is in bankruptcy to be a "Debt Nondischargeable in Bankruptcy," (ii) extinguishing a claim against a regulant who is in bankruptcy and for which claim no distribution was made from the regulant's bankruptcy estate but excluding any such claim disallowed by order of the bankruptcy court, or (iii) extinguishing a claim against a regulant who is in bankruptcy and for which claim only partial distribution was made from the regulant's bankruptcy estate. An order of dismissal shall not be considered a judgment.

"Regulant" means any individual, person, firm, corporation, association, partnership, joint venture or any other legal entity licensed by the Board for Contractors. "Regulant" shall not include contractors holding only the commercial building contractor classification or individuals licensed or certified in accordance with Article 3 (§ 54.1-1128 et seq.) or Article 4 (§ 54.1-1140 et seq.).

"Verified claim" means a completed application, on a form designed by the Board, the truthfulness of which has been attested to by the claimant before a notary public, along with all required supporting documentation, that has been properly received by the Department in accordance with this chapter.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:1; 1984, c. 270; 1987, c. 555; 1988, cc. 393, 765; 1990, cc. 437, 911; 1994, c. 895; 1995, cc. 771, 784; 1996, cc. 934, 1006; 1997, c. 885; 1999, c. 55; 2013, c. 343; 2015, c. 409.

§ 54.1-1119. Assessments by Director; assignment to Fund; minimum balance; notice; penalties; costs of administration.

A. Each initial regulant, at the time of application, shall be assessed twenty-five dollars, which shall be specifically assigned to the Fund. Initial payments may be incorporated in any application fee payment and transferred to the Fund by the Director within thirty days.

All assessments, except initial assessments, for the Fund shall be deposited within three work days after their receipt by the Director, in one or more federally insured banks, savings and loan associations or savings banks located in the Commonwealth. Funds deposited in banks, savings institutions or savings banks, to the extent in excess of insurance afforded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or other federal insurance agency, shall be secured under the Virginia Security for Public Deposits Act (§ 2.2-4400 et seq.). The deposit of these funds in federally insured banks, savings and loan associations or savings banks located in the Commonwealth shall not be considered investment of such funds for purposes of this section. Funds maintained by the Director may be invested in securities that are legal investments for fiduciaries under the provisions of § 64.2-1502.

B. The minimum balance of the Fund shall be $400,000. Whenever the Director determines that the balance of the Fund is or will be less than this minimum balance, the Director shall immediately inform the Board, which shall assess each regulant at the time of his license renewal a sum sufficient to bring the balance of the Fund to an amount of not less than $400,000, when combined with similar assessments of other regulants. No regulant shall be assessed a total amount of more than fifty dollars during any biennium.

Notice to regulants of these assessments shall be by first-class mail, and payment of such assessments shall be made by first-class mail addressed to the Director within forty-five days after the mailing of the notice to regulants.

C. If any regulant fails to remit the required assessment mailed in accordance with subsection B within forty-five days of such mailing, the Director shall notify such regulant by first-class mail at the latest address of record filed with the Board. If no payment has been received by the Director within thirty days after mailing the second notice, the license of the regulant shall be automatically suspended and shall be restored only upon the actual receipt by the Director of the delinquent assessment.

Interest earned on the deposits constituting the Fund shall be used for administering the Fund. The remainder of this interest may be used for the purposes of providing educational programs about the Uniform Statewide Building Code (§ 36-97 et seq.), for providing education on subjects of benefit to licensees or members of the public relating to contracting, or shall accrue to the Fund.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:2; 1984, c. 270; 1987, c. 555; 1988, c. 765; 1990, cc. 3, 437, 911; 1992, c. 810; 1995, c. 771; 1996, c. 96; 1997, c. 885.

§ 54.1-1120. Recovery from Fund generally.

A. The claimant shall be (i) an individual whose contract with the regulant involved contracting for the claimant's residence located in the Commonwealth or (ii) a property owners' association as defined in § 55.1-1800 whose contract with the regulant involved contracting for improvements to the common areas owned by the association.

The claimant shall not himself be (a) an employee of such judgment debtor, (b) a vendor of such judgment debtor, (c) another licensee, (d) the spouse or child of such judgment debtor or the employee of such spouse or child, or (e) a financial or lending institution or any person whose business involves the construction or development of real property.

B. Whenever any person is awarded a judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia against any individual or entity which involves improper or dishonest conduct occurring (i) during a period when such individual or entity was a regulant and (ii) in connection with a transaction involving contracting, the claimant may file a verified claim with the Director to obtain a directive ordering payment from the Fund of the amount unpaid upon the judgment, subject to the following conditions:

1. If any action is instituted against a regulant by any person, such person shall serve a copy of the complaint upon the Board by certified mail or the equivalent.

2. A copy of any pleading or document filed subsequent to the initial service of process in the action against a regulant shall be provided to the Board. The claimant shall submit such copies to the Board by certified mail, or the equivalent, upon his receipt of the pleading or document.

3. A verified claim shall be filed with the Director no later than 12 months after the date of entry of the final judgment from which no further right of appeal exists.

4. Prior to submitting the verified claim, the claimant shall:

a. Conduct or make a reasonable attempt to conduct debtor's interrogatories to determine whether the judgment debtor has any assets that may be sold or applied in whole or partial satisfaction of the judgment; and

b. Take all legally available actions for the sale or application of any assets disclosed in the debtor's interrogatories.

C. If the regulant has filed bankruptcy, the claimant shall file a claim with the proper bankruptcy court. If no distribution is made, or the distribution ordered fails to satisfy the claim, the claimant may then file a claim with the Board. The verified claim shall be received by the Board within 12 months of the date of bankruptcy discharge or dismissal. In the event the judgment is silent as to the conduct of the regulant, the Board shall determine (i) whether the conduct of the regulant that gave rise to the claim was improper or dishonest and (ii) what amount, if any, such claimant is entitled to recover from the Fund.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:3; 1984, c. 270; 1987, c. 555; 1988, cc. 393, 765; 1990, cc. 215, 437, 911; 1995, c. 784; 1996, c. 96; 1997, c. 885; 1999, cc. 55, 261; 2013, c. 343; 2015, c. 409.

§ 54.1-1120.1. Recovery on bond.

A. If a contractor who elected continuous bonding under § 54.1-1106 or 54.1-1108 fails to satisfy a judgment awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction for improper or dishonest conduct, the judgment creditor shall have a claim against the surety bond for such damages. In order to recover the amount of any unpaid judgment, up to but not exceeding the maximum liability as set forth in § 54.1-1106 or 54.1-1108, the judgment creditor shall meet the eligibility requirements of subsection A of § 54.1-1120 and bring suit directly on the surety bond no later than 12 months after the judgment becomes final.

B. The liability of such surety shall be limited to actual monetary loss, court costs, and attorney fees assessed against the contractor as part of the underlying judgment. The liability of such surety shall not include any sums representing interest or punitive damages assessed against the contractor.

C. The surety company shall notify the Board when a claim is made against a contractor's bond, when a claim is paid, and when the bond is cancelled. Such notification shall include the amount of claim and the circumstances surrounding the claim. Notification of cancellation shall include the effective date and reason for cancellation. The bond may be cancelled as to future liability by the contractor's surety upon 30 days' notice to the Board.

2017, c. 572.

§ 54.1-1121. Investigations.

Upon receipt of the notice of proceedings against the regulant, the Department may cause its own investigation to be conducted pursuant to § 54.1-306.

1987, c. 555, § 54-145.3:3.1; 1988, c. 765; 2013, c. 343.

§ 54.1-1122. Consideration of applications for payment.

A. The claimant shall submit the following supporting documentation with the claim:

1. Copies of the contract with the regulant and all written change orders to the contract. If no written contract between the regulant and the claimant is available, the claimant may submit an affidavit attesting to the terms of the agreement, promise, or other contractual obligation;

2. All pleadings or other documents filed with the court from which judgment was obtained;

3. All orders and opinions of the court from which judgment was obtained, including the final judgment order;

4. The transcript of the debtor's interrogatories, if conducted, or if no transcript is available, a sworn affidavit affirming that debtor's interrogatories were conducted, or evidence that debtor's interrogatories were attempted if not conducted; a description of assets of the judgment debtor disclosed in the debtor's interrogatories; and a description of all steps taken for the sale or application of those disclosed assets in whole or partial satisfaction of the judgment, or a statement why no means are legally available for the sale or application of those disclosed assets, or a statement that the value of the disclosed assets is less than the cost of levying upon and selling such assets including reasonable estimates of the fair market value of the disclosed assets and costs of levying upon selling such assets;

5. A statement of the balance of the judgment remaining unpaid at the time the claim is submitted to the Department, and a statement that the claimant agrees to notify the Department of any additional payment that may be received in whole or partial satisfaction of the judgment during the pendency of the claim before the Board; and

6. Any other documentary evidence or exhibits the claimant wishes the Board to consider with the claim.

B. The Department shall promptly consider the verified claim of the claimant administratively. If the claim form is incomplete or not properly notarized, or if all required supporting documentation is not included with the claim, then the Department may provide the claimant with notice of any deficiency and an additional opportunity to submit a corrected verified claim. The burden shall be on the claimant to comply with all claim requirements and to submit the necessary documentation within 12 months of the initial claim submission. Once the Department confirms that the verified claim is complete, it shall present such verified claim, along with a recommendation regarding payment, to the Board for the Board's consideration and shall notify the claimant of the Board's recommendation.

C. The Department's and Board's consideration of the claim shall be based solely on the contents of the verified claim. Neither an informal fact-finding conference pursuant to § 2.2-4019 nor a formal hearing pursuant to § 2.2-4020 shall be required, unless requested by the claimant.

D. A claimant shall not be denied recovery from the Fund due to the fact that order for judgment filed with the verified claim does not contain a specific finding of "improper or dishonest conduct." Any language in the order that supports the conclusion that the court found that the conduct of the regulant meets the definition of "improper or dishonest conduct" in § 54.1-1118 shall be used by the Board to determine eligibility for recovery from the Fund. To the extent the judgment order is silent as to the court's findings on the conduct of the regulant, the Board may determine whether the conduct of the regulant meets the definition of improper or dishonest conduct by substantial evidence in the verified claim.

E. If the Board finds there has been compliance with the required conditions, the Board shall issue a directive ordering payment from the fund to the claimant the amount remaining unpaid on the judgment, subject to the limitations set forth in § 54.1-1123. The claimant shall be notified in writing of the findings of the Board. The Board's findings shall be considered a "case decision" and judicial review of these findings shall be in accordance with § 2.2-4025 of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Board shall have the right to appeal a decision of any court which is contrary to any distribution recommended or authorized by it.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:4; 1984, c. 270; 1987, c. 555; 1988, c. 765; 2006, c. 723; 2013, c. 343; 2017, c. 572.

§ 54.1-1123. Limitations upon recovery from Fund; certain actions not a bar to recovery.

A. The maximum claim of one claimant against the Fund based upon an unpaid judgment arising out of the improper or dishonest conduct of one regulant in connection with a single transaction involving contracting is limited to $20,000, including any amount paid from a contractor's surety bond under § 54.1-1120.1, regardless of the amount of the unpaid judgment of the claimant.

B. The aggregate of claims against the Fund based upon unpaid judgments arising out of the improper or dishonest conduct of any one regulant involving contracting, is limited by the Board to $40,000 during any biennium. If a claim has been made against the Fund, and the Board has reason to believe there may be additional claims against the Fund from other transactions involving the same regulant, the Board may withhold any payment(s) from the Fund involving such regulant for a period of not more than one year from the date on which the claimant is awarded in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Commonwealth the final judgment on which his claim against the Fund is based. After this one-year period, if the aggregate of claims against the regulant exceeds $40,000, during a biennium, $40,000 shall be prorated by the Board among the claimants and paid from the Fund, less the amount of any applicable contractor's bond, in proportion to the amounts of their judgments against the regulant remaining unpaid. Claims shall be prorated only after any applicable contractor's bond has been exhausted.

C. Excluded from the amount of any unpaid judgment upon which a claim against the Fund is based shall be any sums representing interest, or punitive damages, or any amounts that do not constitute actual monetary loss to the claimants. Such claim against the Fund may include court costs and attorney fees.

D. If, at any time, the amount of the Fund is insufficient to fully satisfy any claims or claim filed with the Board and authorized by this Act, the Board shall pay such claims, claim, or portion thereof to the claimants in the order that the claims were filed with the Board.

E. Failure of a claimant to comply with the provisions of subdivisions B 1 and 2 and subsection C of § 54.1-1120 and the provisions of § 54.1-1124 shall not be a bar to recovery under this Act if the claimant is otherwise entitled to such recovery.

F. The Board shall have the authority to deny any claim which otherwise appears to meet the requirements of the Act if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the claimant has presented false information or engaged in collusion to circumvent any of the requirements of the Act.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:5; 1984, c. 270; 1987, cc. 555, 562; 1988, c. 765; 1990, cc. 437, 911; 1997, c. 885; 1999, c. 262; 2005, c. 252; 2015, cc. 409, 710; 2017, c. 572.

§ 54.1-1124. Participation by Board or Director in proceeding.

Upon service of the complaint as provided in subdivision B 1 of § 54.1-1120, the Board, the Director, or duly authorized representatives of the Board shall then have the right to request leave of court to intervene.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:6; 1984, c. 270; 1987, c. 555; 1988, c. 765; 2015, c. 409.

§ 54.1-1125. Assignment of claimant's rights to Board; payment of claim.

A. Subject to the provisions of § 54.1-1123 upon the claimant's execution and delivery to the Director of an assignment to the Board of his rights against the regulant, to the extent he received satisfaction from the Fund, the Director shall pay the claimant from the Fund the amount ordered by the Board.

B. The Board may consider any amount owed to the Board for repayment of the Fund by an applicant for a license under this chapter when determining whether to grant such license.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:7; 1987, c. 555; 1988, c. 765; 1997, c. 885; 2013, c. 343.

§ 54.1-1126. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2013, c. 343, cl. 2.

§ 54.1-1127. No waiver by Board of disciplinary action against regulant.

This article shall not limit the authority of the Board to take disciplinary action against any regulant for any violation of this title or the regulations of the Board. Full repayment of the amount paid from the Fund on a regulant's account shall not nullify or modify the effect of any disciplinary proceeding against that regulant for any violation.

1980, c. 635, § 54-145.3:9; 1988, c. 765; 1997, c. 885.